Asbestos closes bank

Thursday, 27 January, 2005

The ANZ Bank has been forced to close its NSW headquarters in Sydney's central business district to deal with an asbestos scare that could cost it up to $10 million plus months of lost rent.

Traces of the cancer-producing substance have been detected at the bank's 20-storey building in Martin Place, despite a refit 20 years ago to remove the material.

The NSW secretary of the Finance Sector Union, Geoff Derrick, said: "We are very concerned that ANZ puts its staff first before their property and business considerations. My concern is that they have been complacent, since they have known about the problem since last summer. There is no safe level of asbestos." The acting president of the Asbestos Diseases Foundation, Bernie Banton, said there were hundreds or even thousands of buildings of the ANZ vintage around Australia which contained asbestos.

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